Aston Villa vs Man United predictions: Can Red Devils grind out another win
– Manchester United have an incredible 27-year unbeaten run in league trips to Villa Park
– Unai Emery takes charge of his first game as Aston Villa manager in difficult circumstances
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Manchester United wrap up their pre-World Cup Premier League campaign with a couple of potentially tricky away games — but United supporters will consider Villa Park something of a home away from home given the comfortable nature of their trips there in the last couple of decades.
To be precise, it is 23 visits and 27 years since the Red Devils last lost a league game away at Aston Villa, when a 20-year-old David Beckham came on at half-time to score in a 3-1 defeat against a Villa defence featuring Gareth Southgate.
It has certainly been a while for Villa fans and their incoming manager, Unai Emery, will know the scale of the task ahead of him in his first game in charge.
But, having avoided defeat in all three league meetings with United while Arsenal manager, perhaps the Spaniard will believe he is the man to finally break the curse.
Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez suffered suspected concussion at Newcastle last weekend and will surely miss this match in accordance with protocol. Robin Olsen is ready to deputise.
Central defender Diego Carlos will miss most of the campaign with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
While left-back Ludwig Augustinsson and defensive midfielder Boubacar Kamara are both closing in on returning from hamstring and knee injuries respectively, both remain major doubts this weekend.
Manchester United are struggling with a number of injuries and there are particular concerns over who to field in attack.
Wingers Antony and Jadon Sancho, plus striker Anthony Martial, are all significant doubts after failing to even make the bench for Thursday’s Europa League trip to Real Sociedad.
Attacking midfielder Bruno Fernandes featured in San Sebastian but is suspended for Villa after collecting five yellow cards.
Centre-back Raphael Varane remains out with a thigh strain and academy graduates Axel Tuanzebe and Brandon Williams are unlikely to return until after the World Cup.
While the importance of historic records can often be overstated, going 27 years without a home win against United will surely play on Villa minds and Emery will do well to convince his side they can end that run.
This season’s results against the top teams are hardly encouraging, either, with Aston Villa winless in six meetings with top-half opponents, losing five.
Manchester United have not been blowing opponents away under Erik ten Hag but they have been largely consistent following a wobbly start — their heavy defeat to Manchester rivals City is their only loss in 10 Premier League outings.
United have won seven of those 10 games, despite scoring more than two goals in just two of their 12 league outings this term — and one of those occasions was against City in a 6-3 defeat.
Manchester United go into this match hampered by injuries to attacking players.
While they could still field an impressive front three of Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Elanga, there may not be much firepower to call upon from the bench if they find themselves frustrated by Aston Villa.
That is a big if, however.
The Villans enjoyed a 4-0 romp against Brentford in their last home game, with supporters bouncing and the Villa players seemingly unshackled following the departure of Steven Gerrard.
However, that was hugely out of keeping with the rest of their results this season and it will be a concern that they failed to maintain the feel-good factor away at Newcastle last weekend, when they fell to a crushing 4-0 defeat.
Lightning may strike twice, of course, with there again being the potential of Villa Park rocking as they greet a new manager.
But that feels more like a hope than an expectation for Villa supporters and while it may not be particularly pretty or emphatic, United should again get the job done —